The National Department of Health and partners, UNICEF and World Health Organisation conducted a media briefing today to answer questions and further clarify on the Supplementary Immunization Activities on Measles Rubella, Polio, and Vitamin A.
All children between the ages of 6-59 months must get vaccinated during the Supplementary Immunization Activities.
The Measles, Rubella and Polio Vaccines are safe, effective and they provide long term immunity from measles, rubella, and polio diseases.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that spreads from person to person through sneezing, coughing and close contact.
Common signs of the disease are high fever, skin rash, red eyes, cough and runny nose.
Rubella is caused by rubella virus that spreads from person to person through the air.
Rubella is a mild childhood disease however women who contract rubella in the early stages of their pregnancy can pass the virus to their unborn child which can lead to foetal death and birth defects of the eyes, ears, heart, and brain.
While Polio is a dangerous disease that is caused by a virus that enters the body through the mouth from contaminated food or water.
Polio spreads very fast in places with poor hygiene and sanitation, open defecation, and overcrowding.
WHO Team Coordinator for Vaccine, Preventable Diseases and Immunization, Dr Ananda Amarasinghe said that like any other vaccine, there will be some children who will have adversary side effects.
“Sometimes children get high fever or pain in the injection area, but they go away after a few days.”
“Those are expected adversary reactions.”
“Very rarely, there can be serious adversary reactions, but we are prepared to respond to those serious reactions.”
Dr Ananda highlighted that some children may already have an infection, but they don’t show any symptoms and after they get immunized, they get very sick.
This is called coincidental reaction and they will investigate to find out what really caused them to get ill.
Dr Ananda also said that since they aim to vaccine about 1.2 million children during this campaign, they are ready for children who might have an allergic reaction to the vaccines however it is very rare.
National Department of Health Manager for Population and Family health, Dr Edward Waramin said that for children that are sick, they will not be allowed to get immunized.
The health workers will treat them for their illness and send them home, once they are better, they can come back to get vaccines.
“In order to prevent any misconception, it is better not to vaccinate your child when they are sick.”
“The campaign is running for the next 4-5 weeks so we can defer for your child to feel better than come back and get their immunization.”
Children living with disabilities are encouraged to come get vaccinated as their immune system is not as strong as the other children.
“They need the immune boost that the vaccines will give them.”
The immunization campaign was launched on the 1st of May, 2023 for all the 22 provinces with the aim to raise the vaccination rate since the current vaccination rate is at 45%.